From the Trainer’s Room: The two exercises you need to get faster
Let’s face it. Every sport requires an athlete to be fast one way or another.
Whether it’s a baseball player trying to change a single to a double, a soccer player going for a goal across the field, or a hockey player skating, all sports require the athlete to be fast. The question often asked is how to get faster.
A lot of different training techniques go into increasing speed, but the following two exercises should be incorporated into any speed program for athletes, regardless of sport.
To make it simple, you become faster by improving your ability to increase your stride frequency (how many times you are stepping) and your stride length (how long of a stride you take per step).
1. Stride Frequency – Downhill Running
Before attempting, please be aware that I am NOT saying to run down a steep hill as fast as you can. All you need is a slight elevation and to start with a couple of practice attempts. Mimic the duration and speed you need in your sport and run down a hill. Walk back up the hill and repeat.
2. Stride Length – Uphill Running
Yep, just go up a hill with slight elevation, preferably with an 8-12% grade. Mimic your sport speed and duration and run up the hill. Walk down the hill and repeat.
As far as sets go, it’s important to time yourself. If you start slowing down, you’re not getting faster. I know we all want to feel exhausted after each workout but keep your goal for the workout in mind.
When working on increasing speed, it’s better to focus on being faster rather than feeling tired afterwards. Start with 6-8 sets, and once you start to notice improvements in your time, change your number of sets or have less recovery time between sprints.
Taran Eckel is a strength and conditioning coach at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest and can be reached via the Compete website.
(October 2, 2023)